Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are what many people picture when asked to imagine a hearing aid. The design is rather obvious to an onlooker; it loops over the back of the ear and sound is directed into the ear canal by a thin plastic tube.

BTE hearing aids have long been seen as the standard for hearing aids, but this has changed with advancing technologies. There are now a plethora of different options to consider when choosing the right hearing aid for you, including discreet in-the-ear (ITE) and invisible-in-canal (IIC) options. Given the range of choice now available, what makes BTE devices right for you?

The benefits of BTE hearing aids

While the style may not be quite as futuristic as the in-ear options currently available on the market, BTE hearing aids offer a number of benefits to the user:

  • BTE hearing aids are suitable for a wide range of users, including those with severe hearing loss. This is not necessarily the case with ITE options.
  • With smaller ITE options, feedback is more of an issue due to the close proximity of the microphone and the receiver. BTE hearing aids are less likely to experience this, as the two components are further apart.
  • BTE hearing aids are also less vulnerable to issues caused by earwax and, particularly, earwax build up. As the bulk of the device sits behind the ear and away from the ear canal, BTE hearing aids are generally easier to keep clean.
  • It is also worth mentioning that while BTE hearing aids may seem rather old-fashioned compared to devices that are invisible (or almost invisible) in the ear, BTE devices can be equipped with the very latest technology.

We can thus conclude that considering BTE hearing aids is still a worthwhile endeavor when trying to choose your device – but will they be suitable for you?

The answer is … it depends

In other areas of life, it’s often simple to access “the best” product. If you’re buying a new TV, you can purchase an option that literally features the top specifications and offers the best possible picture quality, for example.

However, there is no such thing as “the best” hearing aid – there’s no top-of-the-line model that is suitable for everyone. Selecting a hearing aid is an inherently subjective process, and the decision requires fine-tuning to your specific requirements. You could ask a friend to recommend a TV to you, and if you followed their recommendation, you’d almost certainly be delighted with the results because there is little subjectivity involved. However, if you asked that same friend to recommend a hearing aid to you, you could purchase their suggestion and find it utterly incompatible with your lifestyle, potentially to the point of it being unusable.

So while it is possible to conclude that BTE hearing aids are worthy of further investigation, it is impossible to state that they will – or won’t – be the right choice for your specific requirements. If you wish to consider BTE hearing aids, it is best to discuss the matter with your audiologist, so you can incorporate factors such your lifestyle requirements and the severity of your hearing loss into the decision. With specialist advice, you should be able to make an informed, individualized choice as to whether BTE devices are the right choice for you.